Ken Livingstone

Hugh Muir on Livingstone

I had not anticipated adding yet another post on this topic, but this caught my eye. In his commentary on Livingstone’s defeat Hugh Muir writes:

How much damage did he inflict by failing to make peace with the Jewish political establishment, still sore over conflicts past: the insult to a Jewish reporter, the embrace of Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi? When in March he secretly met a group of senior figures who hoped to reach accommodation, why didn’t he make nice? Instead he upset some again by referring to the Israeli government as Zionists and implying that “rich” Jews wouldn’t vote for him anyway. “I can’t say words that I do not feel in my heart,” he once declared.

I have three niggles here. First, I’m not entirely sure what the ‘Jewish political establishment’ means.  One might assume Ed Miliband was a prominent member of the JPE – but he was backing Ken.  You don’t have to be Jewish or active in politics to find Ken’s past actions iffy.  Secondly, the reference to Qaradawi doesn’t even hint at any possible reason for objecting to the embrace. Finally – that seems a pretty mangled version of the terminology problem.  I don’t think anyone would object to the Israeli government being described as Zionists. A casual, uninformed reader might think Muir’s point seemed roughly on the same lines as the complaint made here.  But Muir’s summary was, at best, inept.

Joseph W adds:

Continuing this theme, see Andy McSmith in the Independent:

While his strengths included his immense knowledge of London, his attention to detail and a willingness to take risks, he was hampered by a love of controversy which involved him in pointless scrapes and alienated most of the capital’s Jewish community. At one point, he was suspended from office by some obscure body with the authority to do so, because [he] had insulted a Jewish journalist.

As if merely insulting a Jew, is enough to get you suspended.

The Independent could have at least explained in detail, the distress caused by Livingstone’s remarks in which he compared this Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard and then refused to apologise for it.

The Independent should have explained this better, even if they did not think Livingstone deserved to be barred from office for it.

Alan A adds:

This passage from Andrew Gilligan’s final blog post is exactly right, by contrast:

For most of its life, the Labour Party was a coalition between the Mirror and the Guardian, Bevin and Crossman, industrial working class and metropolitan bourgeois. Its problem now is that the Guardian wing has come totally to dominate. More than a fifth of Labour’s members are in London, with its concentration of middle-class public-sector workers, though the capital is home to only a ninth of the country’s population.

Membership figures issued in 2010, the last to be broken down by constituency, show that Labour has substantially more members in Richmond Park — where it took just five per cent of the vote at the last general election — than in the Rhondda. It has five times as many members in Hampstead as in Hartlepool. It has more members in seven London boroughs than in the whole of Wales. Its presence in the suburban, middle-English swing seats it needs to win is skimpy.

The London middle-class left, of which Livingstone is the ultimate expression, has been the single most destructive force in Labour’s entire history, genetically programmed to detect the wishes of ordinary people and then do the opposite. It is substantially responsible for keeping the party out of power for the best part of the 1980s and 90s. The reason Boris Johnson won Dagenham, Redbridge, Croydon and Greenwich in 2008 – and, who knows, may do so again today – was that mainstream voters thought Livingstone was interested in everybody except them.

Oh, and Stephen Pollard tweets:

Guardian has thought better of ‘Jewish political establishment’ and changed it to ‘communal leadership’. But makes no mention of the edit…